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Sunday, June 26

After waking up and discovering that my snoring had bothered the person I was sharing a floor with (I was in my sleeping bag, he was across the room - it wasn't dodgy) enough that he'd had to adjourn to the hall, I headed across town to a birthday barbecue. That's two good things in one. A celebration and a barbie. The second barbecue of the weekend.

I was feeling a bit low as I had a hurting leg from my "stage dive" the previous day and my ego was still feeling injured. I hadn't felt like I was being especially funny. Therefore, it was very nice to arrive at a flat and be treated with warmth and enthusiasm. I wasn't especially in the mood to make myself the centre of attention, which made the attentions all the more enjoyable.

We sat outside on the grass and ate sausages and home-made burgers. At some point a guitar was thrust into my hand. Without "playing up", I did a few songs and the absence of microphone, stage and any real burst of effort from me somewhat freed me from my fears of whether it would be funny. The people who were gathered, sitting in a semi-circle around me, laughed heartily and enjoyed themselves. I felt like, perhaps, I might be funny after all. Perhaps my problem is that I sometimes deal with the absence of laughter in a gig by performing harder - this can blast an audience into amusement, but it can be hard to maintain. I've found myself out of breath on stage on a number of occasions and I think that that comes from over-performing it. The audience can start to build up a tolerance to the immensity of the performance. If I don't pull back and do some low-key stuff, with confidence, that I am really only ever going to struggle on stage, even if it looks like I'm doing well. The gig which worked the best, in May, was good because I didn't need to play it immensely hard to get the reaction I wanted. Indeed, I felt quite meek, compared to the reaction of the audience.

Anyway, just as the mood was lifted, I had to leave the barbecue to go to the next gig. I'd had a good time. I brought my comedy along with me as an afterthought, and it had been appreciated. The birthday girl is a fan of one of my routines - Fluffy - which I performed for her at her party. In addition, though, she'd been given a copy of it on a CD, as downloaded from my website (not by me, her partner did it for her).

With my slightly better spirits, I went into town, parked the car, got a Starbucks and discovered that I was holding up the rest of the party - I thought that they were on their way, but they were actually parked and waiting for me. Oops. We drove to Fort William.

I can only describe the gig at Fort William as bloody difficult and the audience as a bunch of small-town mindless imbeciles. I had a very hard time opening the show for them. Part of the problem was a table who were chattering. It contained an old lady and, as it was a small audience, made up perhaps 10% of my audience. I considered turning on this evil old bitch, who, when confronted about her talking said - "Oh, we're talking about you" and then refused to elucidate. However, I had an instinct that this old woman was probably a key figure in the small in-bred community that I had in front of me and that having a go at her might amuse everyone else, but if I annoyed her, they might actually feel ashamed to laugh. So, I put up with their shit. It wasn't fun.

The gig ended later than I hoped. It was about 11.30pm and I was looking at the clock and realising that I had to be in the office at 9.30 the following morning. I had 10 hours. In that time we had to drive to Edinburgh, I had then to drive to Newcastle. I also had to sleep. No matter which way you looked at it, anything we did with the order of events, whether I slept in my own bed, on a floor in Edinburgh or here in Fort William, there was no way of escaping the fact that every second we delayed was a second out of my night's sleep. We had to get moving. I was miserable. I felt unfunny and I was tired. I missed my girlfriend, having been unable to contact her for the whole weekend - her phone was off (batteries die at Glastonbury). Life wasn't feeling good.

While we're flown to Fort William at speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour, we couldn't fly back to Edinburgh. There were loose deer near the roads and an impact on those winding roads at high speed would probably kill us all. I had to put up with the "leisurely cruise" back to the Scottish capital. I was moody and miserable. I was also mindful that Fort William is a hell of a lot further away from home than I should find myself at 11.30pm on a "school night".

At Edinburgh I jumped into my car and headed south. It was around this point that I discovered a new found love of speeding. I was cruising down a straight section of A1 at 3am or so and allowed myself to ponder whether my car could really cope with high speeds. It's a bit of a bone-shaker at 81 miles per hour, but the shaking goes away when you up the speeds and it can really shift. I was quite surprised that this 10 year old vehicle, which has done the better part of 175,000 miles could feel very limber and stable at speeds in excess of 100. Unless you're a policeman, in which case I was doing 70.

I got to bed at some point. Apparently.


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